Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Monday, 7 October 2013

Using the address in a public Dropbox folder to find other files also shared

Disclaimer: Because this post mentions the complementary health magazine 'What Doctors Don't Tell You' I feel it is incumbent upon me to state that: I am not medically trained, I am not paid by any pharmaceutical company nor do I have any stocks or shares in them or their subsidiaries. I am not a 'member' of either Sense About Science or Nightingale Collaboration - largely because they don't have members though I enjoy reading the output of both and am supportive of them.

I'm supportive of people / patients getting hold of good quality health-related information and I accept that things are not perfect in medicine. One thing you can do to put pressure on 'big pharma' to share their trial data (all of it, not just the stuff that makes their drugs look good) is to sign the AllTrials petition

Whenever I see a web address that links to some controversial information I am often thinking 'what else can I find from this site'. Typically I might take the root domain (eg as opposed to and use Google to search for specific phrases (eg cancer or inurl:wddty cancer - note that the second one would also bring up!).

I'll also search for the root domain and see what else shows up, or I might put the address in the browser address bar and prune it a bit ('URL hacking') to see what else I can find within subdomains and folders etc.

I have noticed that What Doctors Don't Tell You are using a public Dropbox folder to share their responses to criticism, for example their most recent 'The WDDTY wars' complaining that they were misrepresented in The Times can be found at

The number 165637094 appears to be a constant and if I search for the pruned address on Google:


then I get this page of results, including several articles - note that all of these are articles placed (presumably by WDDTY staff) into a public Dropbox folder and shared publicly on Facebook or elsewhere. I have not hacked into their files to find anything, I don't know how to do that, nor do I want to.

What did I find? Not much :)
  • Our Word: - a recent press release
  • Ageing well (pt 1): - which includes "Homeopathy: According to WDDTY columnist Dr Harald Gaier, there are several effective homeopathic remedies for varicose veins, including H. virginiana (witch hazel), Aristolochia clematis, Paeonia officinalis, Viburnum opulus and Ruta graveolens."

    The obvious thing to try here is to replace the word One in the address with Two, but sadly this file doesn't exist.
  • What the Times didn't tell you: - another press release
  • The WDDTY wars: - press release
  • Latest news (16 May 2013): - this includes a (dead) link to WDDTY's Vaccination Bible  
  • Healing foods: which suggests you might like to "Add some watercress to your lunchtime salad if you have breast cancer, as it may stop the tumours from progressing", which seems a bit overconfident
  • Subscribe before we are banned:

It's worth being aware that if you share stuff on your public dropbox people can use information in the link to find other stuff you've shared publicly - that you might have forgotten you've shared. This shouldn't be a surprise, obviously, since you've shared it... y'know... publicly, but it can be useful in chasing up other information.

How to solve this
If you'd rather people don't have access to a file then simply move it out of the public Dropbox folder and wait for Google cache to catch up.
If you want to save a copy of a file you think might suddenly be deleted I recommend either downloading it (if it's a PDF, you can occasionally do this from Google cache) or Freezepage if it's a webpage.

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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).